Stanley Fish argues that professors should stick to the classroom.

As the speaker for the Philomathean Society's "Annual Oration" event, Fish gave a lecture titled "What Professors Should and Shouldn't Do in the Classroom" last night in Claudia Cohen Hall. Fish graduated from Penn in 1959 and is now a weekly columnist for The New York Times and a professor of law at Florida International University.

Fish summarized the role of higher education in two points - to "introduce bodies of materials and inquiries" that students have not been exposed to and to "equip them with analytical skills [that will] enable them to move through such bodies confidently."

Above all, Fish emphasized that professors should not try to influence students' opinions.

As English professor Jean-Michel Rabate discussed in his introductory remarks, Fish is "against all those ... who think that the aim of education is to provide moral values, to make of students future citizens or denizens of a better democracy."

The structure of Fish's lecture paralleled his notion of pedagogy - first presenting academic knowledge and then stimulating analysis. He read three to four paragraphs from the unpublished version of the introduction to his recent book Save The World On Your Own Time. He then asked the audience to "ask questions, raise interjections, express outrage and request clarification" in response to his reading.

The lecture drew a varied audience, including students, members of the Philomathean Society, faculty and professors from across campus.

Nina Johnson, a senior in the College and a member of the Philomathean Society proclaimed, "Our Annual Oration are the coolest events, ever."

"[Fish] was a great speaker, and it's always more fun to go hear a speech when the speaker is great," Johnson added. "He was more engaging with the audience than most other speakers."

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